All students have headed home after an amazing program!
Last Sunday on Barefoot
Our last Sunday on Barefoot Island was spent relaxing and making the most of the sunshine. Students spent the downtime in the morning taking some well deserved ‘self-care’ time, including reading, washing, sunbathing, and snorkelling; a few of us even decided to take a hike up to the island’s most scenic route. After lunch, we went on kayak adventure to a new beach and new snorkelling site. The aquatic life was out of this world! We are all looking forward to our last day of service tomorrow where we will be working in Kese Village on the community garden.
The day started off with an adrenaline rush as the group arrived at Soso Village ready to hike the mountainous trails leading to Kese Village. The sweat and fatigue were well worth the absolutely breathtaking views seen from the peak. The hike ended in Kese Village where Koroi’s wife, Vika, prepared fresh lemonade, coconuts, and papaya. The group treated themselves to a relaxing afternoon and felt a great sense of accomplishment.
Last Day at Yasawa
After a successful day in the villages, students returned to Yasawa High School one last time. As a sign of gratitude for looking after us and sharing their culture too, the group transformed one of school’s bare concrete water tanks into a vibrant mural! It was wonderful to see such effortless collaboration amongst the group; a true testament to the progress we have made over the past two weeks. The school was visited by Fiji Princess Yacht passengers and students had the opportunity to explain their service program with Vinaka Fiji to the guests and the ways in which we have helped the communities. The guests were blown away!
The day was spent at Malevu Village where we divided up and joined our host families for the day. The families were more than welcoming and generous in making us feel comfortable and at home. Students had opportunities to explore the village, visit the local farm, and continue to learn more about the Fijian culture and lifestyle. Baskets were weaved, dialogue was exchanged, and new cultural foods were tasted, At the end of the day, we made our way to the boat holding the hands of the Fijian children. A great day of cultural exchange and continuing our life learning journey.
Today was a physical adventure. At service the group planted eggplant, tomato and cabbage seedlings and placed them into the newly developed greenhouse which GLA students constructed in earlier programs. A few of us helped peel the bark off the vivi branches used for constructing the greenhouse’s shelves. When we returned back to base, the group treated themselves to some delicious smoothies. Yum. The evening wrapped up with Eddie’s presentation on the power of positivity and ‘rad’ role models. The take away message… “don’t lose sight of the gorilla!” (please ask your son or daughter)
Yasawa High School
We made our way back to Yasawa High School today where the students had the opportunity to spend time with and get to know their Fijian peers and their culture. Students were surprised by some of their discoveries in Fijian high school and had the opportunity to reflect on these in their mentor session with Heather in the evening. There was a greater appreciation for the educational opportunities and the education system more generally that we have back home. An important lesson for us all to learn, and it’s never too late to learn it!
Another relaxing day on Barefoot Island. Tema gave a Fijian language lesson in the morning and was very happy with how all the students engaged. With some down time before lunch students enjoyed the hammocks and each others company and the general calmness of the island. Lunch was had with the whole group together sat at the ‘Sunset deck’. We managed to get our first group photo together it seems this whole trip! After lunch we put the ‘Adventure’ in GLA, as we all kayaked together around the whole island. It was beautiful, and enabled us to establish just how small the island is, whilst discovering that we hadn’t yet seen much it! A calm and still sea enabled us to appreciate more fully the reef surrounding it and the ‘scariness’ of the reef shelf where the bottom suddenly disappears into the depths. A top weekend and we’re ready for a good week of service.
It has been a busy, fun and relaxing Saturday here in Fiji. The weekend kicked off with Friday evening seeing some ‘old school neighbourhood games’. Our Local Director, Tema, joined in with a fierce game of Sword and the Stone, or Noodle and the Coral as we like to play here, which was a lot of fun.
Saturday morning we took it easy in island style. After a slightly later breakfast we we all took some time in making items of coconut jewellery with help from one of our local staff Koroi. We all made rings from coconuts, sounds simple enough but there is A LOT of sanding involved! A great opportunity to chill and chat whilst learning something new.
After lunch we had our briefing on the Manta Ray snorkelling which we are hoping to do tomorrow. Then it was Lovo time, a traditional Fijian cooking method of cooking with buried food and fire. The students learned to flesh the coconuts before squeezing the meat for milk, sorted the Taro leaves which would be cooked in the coconut milk with onion, and learned to weave their own coconut leaf plates.
There was still time to chill and later play some volley ball, before a spontaneous sunset swim together to end the day. After a big feast on the foods we helped prepare, it’s movie time, and time to rest.
Week One Done!
First week of service was completed in style this afternoon with a students taking part in fierce game of volleyball! We had our first Marine Service day today as well and the students were involved in a variety or conservation aimed activities.
The morning began with a visit to a nearby by somewhat out of sight beach, where we discovered that not every beach in Fiji is a white sand paradise. Lots of wind blown litter gathers on the non-resort beaches and the team did a great job at bagging as much as possible.
Crown of Thorns Sea Star removal was the next job. We worked together along with the dive team to carefully scout out any of the invasive marine species. We removed 18, collected the data on them for the dive team and saw them buried under the sand, never to harm the reef again!
The afternoon saw the team divide into two groups, Kimmee, Shara, Ross and Maddie collected and replanted mangrove embryos for habitat and marine land conservation. Meanwhile Matt, Sienna and Sabrina made ‘coral cookies’, which we will use to plant new pieces of coral in the next Marine Service day.
A great end to a busy and successful first week. We welcome the weekend!
Another Day in Paradise
Today was another day in paradise. We spent the morning learning how to properly open a coconut and remove the flesh. In total, we carved out ten coconuts which made for a nutritious snack. After lunch, the group cut down timber to use for the shelving units in the greenhouse. The service day ended with a beautiful hike up to lookout of Barefoot Island. We are all eager to get into the ocean tomorrow and explore the coral reefs with our local marine biologist.
One Week In!
Today officially marks the one week point! Time has been flying by as the group continues to grow and friendships deepen. This morning we worked along side Koroj and Lamecki on the school farm building shelves for the greenhouse. Collecting wood, digging holes, and drilling were among the many tasks completed today. Contrasting the strenuous morning, the group spent their evening relaxing after a rich discussion in mentor sessions. As always, we are looking forward to a new day tomorrow.
Naviti Primary School
Today was another successful of service day at Naviti Primary School. Matt, Ross, Sienna, and Sara worked as teaching assistants while Kimmy, Maddie, and Sabrina tutored students in the reading recovery program. When arriving back from service, a few of us decided to get a workout in while other’s sipped on iced coffees while watching the sun go down. Before dinner, we made our own personal mailboxes out of coconuts and then decorated them with different colors of paint. After dinner, the group watched the documentary “Crash Reel” before heading to bed. We are looking forward to working hard tomorrow as we begin the construction of a greenhouse at the school!
We’ve Arrived on Barefoot!
An early start for the group saw us arriving at the port ready for departure. The three hour boat journey was spectacular giving us a scenic overview of the Yasawa Island chain. Sabrina found it a little bumpy and so was happy to finally arrive on the island. Matt discovered the viewing platform at the front of the boat and took Eddie down to join him in flying in the wind! Upon arrival, the group went out for our first snorkel and were able to witness the tropical fish flourishing in the coral reefs. During our mentor session, the group was challenged to unravel their human knot. After a delicious dinner, we met the local staff and learned more about the service work we will be completing this session. We are all very eager to meet the Fijian students and work in the primary school tomorrow!
This morning was spent exploring the shops of downtown Nadi. Fijian sarongs, trinkets, jewelry, and henna were a few items purchased on the trip. The group treated themselves to delicious mango and papa smoothies in a nearby cafe. Yum! The authentic food continued as we returned from town. We all had the opportunity to learn about the cultural foods of the Indian community by partaking in an Indian cooking class! Kimmy had the chance to try chicken curry and roti wraps for the first time in her life! The night ended with a Fijian history talk and fire dance!
BULA to everyone!
We have the whole crew here and we’ve got off to a great start. Ross arrived with us this morning fresh and ready to rock and all students had a good rest after their red-eyed flights to Fiji.
After a stroll down to the beach today to play some team bonding games the team were off exploring the orchid gardens of the Sleeping Giant mountain. We found a place to sit together and appreciate the peacefulness of the new space. Excitement for the mud pool soon kicked in though so after some very tasty juice we were on our way.
The mud pool cemented our team bond further and to top it all we relaxed in the hot springs looking out towards the mountain. A fantastic start to an exciting program ahead.